Helpfully, some advance information about the upcoming Primeval episodes can be found on the prog’s wikipedia page, the one headed Primeval Episodes. And tonight’s, in case you missed the trailer, is to do with a medieval knight pursuing a fearsome dragon (which turns out to be a dino, natch). Anyway, the writer of tonight’s episode is one Andrew Rattenbury and if you nip over to his resume at IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0711885/ – you’ll see that it makes for very interesting reading. Guy has quite a CV of scripts written for Peak Practice, Holby City, Casualty, Monarch of the Glen, The Golden Hour, Hotel Babylon, and most recently The Bill, Harley Street, and Crusoe. Those are just the highlights. Spot the SF (or even fantasy) writing experience? That’s right, there ain’t none and if you scan the full IMDB resume you’ll find none there either.
I may be wrong – AR may well write fabulous SF under a pseudonym, either for screen or printed mags, although if you were writing scripts for Primeval, a SCIENCE FICTION series for television, you might wanna use that other persona. So I think we can safely deduce that AR has no experience writing SF, which I suppose makes him right at home working on Primeval this season.
Now the man has considerable scripting experience, no doubt about it, but that is no guarantee that he has the necessary feel for plausible, consistent SF. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s gonna be an interesting viewing tonight … well, I’m recording it to watch tomorrow, after which I’ll deliver my pithy commentary, and who knows, I might be eating a nice big juicy portion of humble pie!
I said might.
THE MIGHTY UPDATE
Good god almighty. Or as Frank Zappa once said – ‘Great googly moogly!’
I had thought that Primeval couldn’t get more brainless but, gotta hand it to them, in this episode the writing really plumbed new depths of daft. I mean Chuckle Brothers daft.
The main part of this critique hinges, as keen-eyed observers will have already noted, on the question of spoken English. When the medieval knight came charging out after the Dinodragon, I was actually surprised to hear him intone something in Latin, then to see Danny and Sarah do a bit of on-the-hoof translating. However, my mood nosedived into crashing disappointment when we started to see the knight nattering away in….colloquial english, as she is spoken here in the early 21st century. And LO! – there he is, talking away, perfectly understandable and understanding what is said to him.
Which is bollocks. In the middle ages the common tongue was Old English, derived from Anglo-Saxon tongues, whereas the ruling elite spoke Norman French and the clergy spoke Latin.
More in a little while.
And….a little while passes by. So basically, the notion of someone stepping from the 12th century into contemporary Britain and being able to carry on a conversation is completely and uttery imbecilic. And to foist that on a watching audience again demonstrates a pretty low level of respect for that audience. (Of course, there is a way in which it could have worked – you could have had the knight come through with a page of some kind, so that they could have some dialogue about arriving in this nightmarish future, while Danny and/or Sarah would use their college-level latin to try and converse with Sir William. But that would have demanded a bit of hard work).
Other idiocies – Sarah going into the shop, trying on clothes, walks out without paying (another instance of dressing up, following on from last week. Whats that all about?); Sarah then goes for a jaunt off thru the anomaly just for a nosy, which under the Cutter regime would have been cause for being sent to bed wi’ nae supper! ; Abby jumping into close proximity with a wounded dinosaur (Ah, you’ll be my lunch, then), soon followed by Danny doing same; Danny turning into Zorro, going toe to toe with a knight who’s a veteran mercenary; Abby’s brother; Connor living with Lester (wahey, its the Odder Couple!); William de Mornay’s wild hacking rampage neutralised by Abby’s reason and compassion…yeah right.
And for additional perspectives on the above, take a look at the Primeval board at ITV forums, specifically this thread:-
When you lose the intelligent viewers, doom ain`t far behind.
And by the way, a leetle bird tells me that the story ideas are concoted by the series producers, Impossible Pictures, who then take on board writers to flesh said ‘ideas’ into scripts. Well, well, isn’t that intriguing?